Westside

UNDERSEA ADVENTURE: Ever wonder what marine life exists in the Santa Monica Bay--alongside the trash and other pollutants, that is? UCLA's new Ocean Discovery Center, which officials unveiled on Wednesday, will soon be there to provide the answers.

The center, which opens to the public in January, will be housed in a building under the Santa Monica Pier. It will feature a 3,000-gallon fish tank standing 6 feet tall and extending 14 feet along the length of one wall. Other tanks will house sea creatures that visitors will be able to touch. The site also will include a computer laboratory and a 60-seat auditorium with a video and computer projection system.

UCLA funded most of the center's $500,000 cost, with help from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project.

The marine center will conduct classes for about 30,000 elementary and high school students. Initially, the center will serve pupils from the Los Angeles Unified and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school districts. After the first year, it will host students from throughout Los Angeles County.

UCLA undergraduate science students will teach the marine education program after they complete a 10-week training program.

The public will be invited to visit the center in the afternoons and on the weekends. Admission is $5 for adults; children are free.

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